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Research Basics - All Subjects

Montgomery Library's Guide to Research Basics

Evaluating a Resource

Answer these questions to determine if a resource is appropriate for your assignment. Questions numbered 1-5 comprise the "CRAAP Test." In other words, do you have a current, reliable, authoritative and unbiased source of information aimed at the appropriate audience?

1.  Currency Is the information up to date?
2. Reliability Does the author provide a list of works cited in order to verify the information presented?
3.             Authority                Is the author an expert in the field? What are the author's credentials?
4. Audience Is the resource scholarly, or is it written to enlighten or entertain?
5.            Point of View Does the author try to present a biased or an unbiased point of view?
6.        Scope Does your topic fall within the range of information covered?

Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines

A scholarly (peer-reviewed) article is written by an expert in the field and is reviewed by peers (other experts) to see if the research is sound and worthy of publication.

A popular article is written by a magazine staffer or freelancer (who may or may not be an expert on the topic) to enlighten or entertain an audience.

Montgomery Library Databases

Montgomery Library databases are not websites, although you use the Internet for access to them. Most of the database content has been published previously in another format and provides a reliable source for research. Montgomery Library pays subscription fees to database providers in order to grant access to current students, faculty, and staff of Campbellsville University. Through the use of our digital resources, you have access to hundreds of thousands of e-books and electronic journal titles. Our subscription databases contain journal articles and much more, including newspaper articles, images of art, photographs, music, historical letters and diaries, and e-books.

Link below to an A - Z list of Montgomery Library's electronic databases. 

Databases vs. Google

           Library Database Searching                                 Internet Searching                                  
Cost to User        Free of cost to user - institution pays subscription fees         Frequent fees for search results
Full-Text  Frequently available Frequently unavailable
Stability  Content is stable and reliable Content is unstable. Sites come and go.
Organization    Structured for efficient searches Unstructured, leading to many irrelevant results

Evaluating Websites

Evaluate websites from the Internet on an individual basis using the questions listed in the box at the top. The domain of a website can help you answer some of those questions.

Common Top-level Domain Names:

.com, .net & .org - These three domains have unrestricted registration, meaning the sites can be commercial (.com or .net) or non-profit. Use caution with these domains because commercial websites may be biased and may require you to pay for resources which you can find elsewhere for free. Websites of non-profit organizations (.org) usually have access to experts in the field or contain previously published information, making them more reliable as a source. Use not-for-profit sites with well-known reputations.

.edu - This domain is used for education websites authored by university faculty or programs. Some .edu sites, however, are personal web pages.

.gov - Used by U.S. government websites, this domain indicates that the information comes from a government agency and is usually reliable and factual.

The rule of thumb is to use caution when using information from the Internet because ANYONE can claim to be an expert!